• Loading stock data...
Monday, February 26, 2024
Rates for the 2024 Best Venues Award increase this Sunday at 11:59 p.m. ET

ESPN Production Crews Gear Up for Five-Game Christmas Day Slate

Photo credit: ESPN


Photo credit: ESPN

This Christmas, LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers take on the star-studded Golden State Warriors in the teams’ first matchup of the season, making for one of the most highly-anticipated NBA games of the year. The NBA Christmas slate also features games between the Bucks and Knicks, Thunder and Rockets, 76ers and Celtics, and Blazers and Jazz.

“It’s a huge day for us,” said Tim Corrigan, senior coordinating producer at ESPN. “It will be our highest-rated day of the year for the NBA, so we always circle it on our calendar. We always want to be the best version we can, but it’s one of those days we’re just going to have more people watching.”

ESPN will produce all five games on Christmas, as it has done for 17 straight years. The 13-hour lineup will include games on both ESPN and ABC, with “NBA Countdown” holding things down during pregame and halftime.

“It’s the best,” Corrigan said. “This is what we’re passionate about — this sport — so it’s great to know you can sit down and transition from game to game to game regardless of network. We cross back from ESPN to ABC anyway, and we don’t treat one differently than the other. We put our best foot forward because, to us, we go and do our job, and we get to be part of what’s fun and entertaining for fans.”

LISTEN: Rob Perez’s Journey from Ticketing Entrepreneur to NBA Personality

ESPN pulls out all of the stops for its Christmas production, between the “NBA Countdown” crew of Michelle Beadle, Paul Pierce, Jalen Rose and Adrian Wojnarowski, and the broadcast crews featuring big names like Chauncey Billups, Doris Burke, Hubie Brown, Mike Breen, Jeff Van Gundy, Mark Jackson and P.J. Carlesimo. The production will even feature a special performance by musician Daveed Diggs, who starred in Hamilton.

“It’s become a must-watch thing for folks, even those who don’t follow the NBA very closely,” Corrigan said of NBA Christmas. “We pick up a bunch of outside fans — as we like to say, we like to be kind to the accidental viewer and get them up to speed. We let players be stars and document it the best we can.”

Corrigan and his crew make it a point to plan their productions with the viewers in mind, especially on Christmas.

“It’s worked out great with the league and the programming, with team matchups you want to see and players who resonate,” Corrigan said. “This year, players in all five games will be wearing microphones. Fans want that access, so we know that to take advantage of the huge audience, we need to do something a little more special, so we’re doing it across all of our games, starting with the Bucks and Knicks.”

[mc4wp_form id=”8260″]

Thanks to a competitive, drama-filled start to the NBA regular season, ESPN is already in peak form when it comes to producing games.

“We’re coming in at a really good place,” Corrigan said. “The games we have, people are really interested in them, at the teams hitting their stride or fighting through challenges. I think we’re in a great spot to capitalize on interesting stories… The great thing is, we’re a couple months into the season. From production to talent to engineering to operations, we’re in our groove of covering the NBA right now.”

The Christmas slate is particularly special because it appeals to everyone, from NBA die-hards to casual fans, according to Corrigan.

“I think the best thing for us is that, certainly, there is part of our audience that only watches at Christmas — they may be big football fans and they’re starting to transition to the NBA now — but there’s also a large part of our audience that has been with us since October, during our preseason Lakers/Warriors games,” he said.

READ MORE: Timberwolves Use Pop Culture to Drive Creative Direction for ‘City Edition’ Jersey

Fans don’t have to wait until Christmas Day to enjoy the NBA festivities, though. ESPN’s “The Jump” will air a 90-minute Christmas preview special at 2 p.m. ET on Christmas Eve, hosted by Rachel Nichols with appearances by Scottie Pippen, Amin Elhassan, Nick Friedell and Marc Spears.

Between the preview special, five consecutive games, and pregame and halftime shows, the ESPN crew is taking an all-hands-on-deck approach to pull it all off.

“I have to give a big shoutout to everybody — talent, producers, directors, associate staff, engineering, operations — everybody who makes this day special for us,” said Corrigan.

“It’s hundreds of people across the board, from production to operations to engineering, just because each game is fully staffed with anywhere from a dozen to 20 cameras,” he added. “It’s a huge undertaking, and anybody who works on production, operations or engineering is working that day. It’s a source of pride to be a part of this, and to be asked to be a part of this.”

Copy Link
Link Copied
Link Copied

What to Read

Sham Gods: The Rapidly Growing World of Sports Impersonators on X

Fake Schefters and Wojs, fabricated trade demands, and borrowed profile pictures.
Sep 24, 2023; Oakland, California, USA; A general view of the Oakland Athletics dugout after the game against the Detroit Tigers at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.

Murky Future: Everything You Need to Know About the A’s Move to Las Vegas

Breaking down one of the most drawn-out, multifaceted sagas in sports.
Michigan defensive lineman Kenneth Grant celebrates a sack on Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr. in the second quarter during the College Football Playoff national championship game against Washington at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas on Monday, Jan. 8, 2024.

Pay-for-Play Is Here: Federal Judge Says NCAA Cannot Enforce Any NIL Rules

The ruling effectively allows pay-for-play to go forward uninhibited.

WBD Touts Streaming Profit, Sports Alliance While Stock Is Hammered

TNT Sports parent sees tough reaction from Wall Street to latest earnings.
podcast thumbnail mobile
Front Office Sports Today

The Shady Business of Fake Sports News


Featured Today

Sabrina-Steph Wasn’t the ‘Battle of the Sexes’—But It Was Part of the Bigger War

The competition could play a factor in increasing the WNBA’s media value.
NASCAR Cup Series driver Bubba Wallace (23), in a Star Wars rebel alliance X-wing fighter pilot-inspired race suit, motions to the crowd to get louder during the driver introductions for the Cup Series Championship race at Phoenix Raceway in Avondale on Nov. 5, 2023.
February 17, 2024

Celebrity Owners, International Ambitions, and $7B Media Deals: Welcome to the New NASCAR

NASCAR boldly keeps pace with the increasingly competitive sports and entertainment world.
February 16, 2024

Wilson Introduced an Airless Basketball for $2,500. We Had Questions

The black, 3D-printed ball appeared in last year’s Slam Dunk Contest.
Emily Henegar, a baker and content creator, made a batch of NFL-inspired cookies featuring Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce.
February 11, 2024

The ‘Life-Changing’ Economy of Taylor Swift’s NFL Outfits

Appearing in Swift’s game-day wardrobe has been “life-changing” for small businesses.


Powered By

Careers in Sports

Looking for a new job? Check out these featured listings and search for openings all over the world.
Finance Manager
New York, NY
Senior Technical Artist - Sports Technology
EA Sports
Orlando, FL
Assistant Manager, Affiliate Operations
Portland, OR
Arizona Diamondbacks

Diamondbacks Heading Into Another Season With MLB in Charge of Media Rights

The D-Backs chose the league over getting their own over-the-air partners.
A Bundesliga camera operator during a match
February 22, 2024

Fan Power in European Soccer Grows As German Football Deal Scuttled 

Weeks of increasingly strident protests lead to end of proposed private equity deal.
Chad Powers
February 22, 2024

Tuned In: Hulu Turning Glen Powell Into Eli Manning With ‘Chad Powers’ Comedy

The ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ star will play the comedic QB Manning created for ESPN+.

Live Sports Are Now High-Tech Experiences

Oracle is leading the technology revolution happening in stadiums across the world.
Inter Miami forward Lionel Messi following the victory against Los Angeles FC at BMO Stadium.
February 21, 2024

Lionel Messi Phenomenon Spurs Specialized Media Attention

Messi joins Taylor Swift and Beyoncé for celebrities to have their beat writer at ‘USA Today.’
FuboTV signage
February 21, 2024

FuboTV Lawsuit Against Sports Streaming Giants Likely Faces Uphill Climb

Legal and regulatory drama heightens around the high-profile streaming alliance.
Athletes Unlimited
February 21, 2024

Athletes Unlimited Is Getting All Four of Its Women’s Pro Leagues on ESPN Platforms

The league is reducing its ESPN+ games to make room for other partners.
February 21, 2024

Tuned In: Amazon Said to Be Paying Record $120M to Stream NFL Playoff Game

Is JJ Redick aiming to become ESPN’s Charles Barkley?